Monday, April 07, 2008

More Grids

"In the valley of the Indus, I wandered among the austere remains of the oldest Oriental culture, which have managed to withstand the passing of the centuries, sand, floods, saltpetre and Aryan invasions: Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, hardened outcrops of bricks and shards. These ancient settlements present a disconcerting spectacle. The streets are all perfectly straight and intersect each other at right-angles; there are workers' districts, in which all the dwellings are identical, industrial workshops for the grinding of grain, the casting and engraving of metals and the manufacture of clay goblets, fragments of which lie strewn on the ground; municipal granaries which occupy several blocks (as we might be tempted to say, making a transposition in time and space); public baths, water-pipes and sewers; and solid but unattractive residential districts. No monuments or large pieces of sculpture, but, at a depth of between ten and twenty yards, flimsy trinkets and precious jewels, indicative of an art devoid of mystery and uninspired by any deep faith, and intended merely to satisfy the ostentatiousness and sensuality of the rich. The complex as a whole reminds the visitor of the advantages and defects of a large modern city; it foreshadows those more advanced forms of Western civilization, of which the United States of America provides a model, even for Europe."

-- Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques (trans. John and Doreen Weightman, p. 130)

1 comment:

Frank Partisan said...

You'll see more areas like that, before you see less.